“I haven’t always been a single man.”
— Weddings, Parties, Anything, Father’s Day
Excruciating and never-ending. That’s two ways I’d describe the experience of a regular grief I’d feel every time I’d take my girls back home. Back to being alone again, without the ones I most loved, in a situation that I hated, was agonising and it lasted years. There was hardly anything that could shift the spiritual lament that came over me for a day or two hence each time.
And, yet, I haven’t felt that way in a long time now. With the girls having all but grown up, and having married again, there is now a new season.
It was the playing of the (“every Saturday it’s...) Father’s Day” song that sparked my memory for what life was like – for a few years.
I’m thankful for it now – that experience: the lonely exercise of forced singleness. I know God used such a hard and long-lasting thing to teach me what I could learn no other way.
I do not wish to sound glib. I do not want to patronise you who are facing this nemesis of loneliness – the single father or mother, among many who find themselves forced into their singleness; an extended period of great pain.
Even during these periods of anguish I could begin to appreciate that God was teaching me something I couldn’t learn any other way.
I took heart in that; my pain had a purpose, in that it was repetitive, and I would therefore not ever consider it insignificant. The anguish would change me; for the better. And I desired change. I was sick of the old me that landed me in this mess to begin with. And only I could say such a thing about myself.
As I entered into these sullen recesses of depression, God’s voice in me – his Spirit – beckoned me to search the things that might help. I read spiritual materials, including my Bible, I walked, I talked with God, I begged and cried, and... eventually... I learned.
My loneliest times taught me what even God could not teach me otherwise. I learned the value of learning is kindled in the crucible of agony. Learning about God, life, truth, and love occurs most powerfully when we are in our deepest pain.
Pain is never a waste, for there is no better teacher than pain. Her core subjects are Compassion, Kindness, Gentleness, and Patience.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.